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Liar Greenfield, Langer Admit Drinking During Session; Committee Slaps Wrists

So there was tomfoolery.

In the wee hours of March 31, 2020, Senator Brock Greenfield (R-2/Clark) made this statement in the Capitol to the South Dakota Senate, then convened electronically, in response to a motion from Senator Phil Jensen (R-33/Rapid City) seeking an investigation of Senator Kris Langer (R-25/Dell Rapids) for legislating while drunk:

Senator Jensen and everybody who’s listening in, I just want to assure you that I’ve been with the Senator for the balance of the evening, and the hour is extraordinarily late. Everybody’s a little bit punchy, but we have… we have not… we have not overindulged, we have not indulged. I just… I just want to set the record straight, lest there be any confusion, about six and a half hours ago, if I’m not mistaken, we recessed. Beyond that, there’s been no tomfoolery. I… I… I don’t know what the Senator bases his allegations on, but, I just want to assure you that we’ve been doing the people’s business throughout the entirety of the day. We’re about seventeen hours into our—in fact, we’re beyond that, we’re about eighteen and a half hours into our Legislative day, and I, I want to assure the public that the Senator has been nothing but professional throughout the day and want to put to rest any concerns that there are. We are a very professional body and I don’t want there to be any concerns or any, any unaddressed issues that would go forward. So with that I’m asking for… I’m asking for your indulgence in allowing us to adjourn sine die or sine die as Senator Curd has pointed out that’s properly pronounced, and as the President of the Senate has pointed out, any such motion has to be presented in writing, and so I don’t think that’s able to be accomplished and I just ask for your indulgence in allowing us to go ahead an adjourn sine die [Senator Brock Greenfield, statement to South Dakota Senate, as transcribed from SDPB video, 2020.03.31].

Yesterday, at the beginning of the Senate Interim Investigatory Committee’s second day of hearing the matter of Greenfield’s and Langer’s alleged drunkenness on duty, Senator Langer made this statement:

During the Senate’s break, we left the Capitol and had alcohol while waiting for the House chamber to finish their legislation. We wish to apologize for this bad judgment on our part and for any delay this may have brought about for other members. Please accept our deepest apology and know that we are committed to continuing to serve with you in the future interest of our state and its citizens [Sen. Kris Langer, statement to Senate Interim Investigatory Committee, as transcribed from SDPB video, 2020.04.24].

Senator Greenfield immediately followed Senator Langer with this statement:

I would echo the sentiments shared by Senator Langer. I too apologize. I am truly sorry for even placing myself in a setting that allowed for questions as to my judgment or my state of mind. Moreover, I am sorry for the time and energy that so many people have spent dealing with this matter. Especially in these current times, there is important work to do for the people of South Dakota and I am hopeful that we can all focus moving forward [Sen. Brock Greenfield, statement to Senate Interim Investigatory Committee, as transcribed from SDPB video, 2020.04.24].

Those are pretty thin apologies. Neither Senator directly admits drunkenness or disruption of Legislative proceedings. But even without getting into yesterday’s damning testimony—House Majority Leader Lee Qualm’s statement that “there’s no doubt in my mind that both of them were drunk“; Representative Oren Lesmeister’s statement that “they were intoxicated that night” and that while Greenfield was able to carry on a conversation, Langer had “very slurred speech and had trouble finishing sentences“; House Speaker Steven Haugaard’s statement that Langer was “not able to communicate an intelligent thought” that night at the Capitol; Haugaard’s statement that Greenfield’s “speech was thick and slurred“; Haugaard’s statement that Greenfield admitted to him on April 1 that Greenfield and Langer had been out drinking before the Session adjourned at lobbyist Dean Krogman’s house with lobbyists Brian Gosch, Justin Bell, and Katie Sieverding and with Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden—Langer’s and Greenfield’s words yesterday make clear that they disrespected the Legislature and the people of South Dakota not just with their drinking but with Greenfield’s lying about it.

  1. we have… we have not… we have not overindulged, we have not indulged—Lie: you indulged in drinking alcohol.
  2. about six and a half hours ago, if I’m not mistaken, we recessed. Beyond that, there’s been no tomfoolery. Lie: you fooled around with alcohol and came back to the Capitol unfit for duty.
  3. I don’t know what the Senator bases his allegations on—Lie: you knew exactly what Senator Jensen based his allegations on. You were at Krogman’s house, you drank, you saw Senator Langer drink, and you both came back to the Capitol visibly and audibly impaired.
  4. we’ve been doing the people’s business throughout the entirety of the day—Lie: drinking alcohol at a lobbyist’s house is not doing the people’s business.
  5. the Senator has been nothing but professional throughout the day—Lie. Drinking alcohol at a lobbyist’s house, delaying the resumption of Legislative business, and showing up to work with alcohol in your system is not professional.
  6. We are a very professional body—Lie. Professionals don’t drink until they are done with their workday.
  7. I don’t want there to be any concerns or any, any unaddressed issues that would go forward—Lie. You resisted the motion to investigate concerns and wanted the issue of your drinking on the job to go unaddressed.

Lies, Brock. Lies. How dare you, Brock? How dare you lie to the Senate? How dare you lie to the people?

Sen. Brock Greenfield "apologizes" to Senate Interim Investigatory Committee, screen cap from SDPB video of online meeting, 2020.04.24.
Sen. Brock Greenfield “apologizes” to Senate Interim Investigatory Committee; Cmte. Chair Art Rusch listens, upper right; attorney Marty Jackley prepares to buffalo cmte, lower right; screen cap from SDPB video of online meeting, 2020.04.24.

The speciousness of your “apology” is disgusting in itself. You suggest that the time and energy “so many people” have spent dealing with your drunkenness and lying would have been better spent on the important issues of the day. But while one of your Legislative colleagues lay dying of coronavirus, the outbreak of which prompted the emergency legislation that kept the Legislature working for all those extra hours on Veto Day, you spent your time and energy drinking to excess with lobbyists. So how dare you try to lace your “apology” with a passive-aggressive lecture on priorities when you yourself perhaps literally pissed six hours of that important day down your leg in pursuit of booze?

But the lies, the outright lies—you lied to us, Brock.

Luckily for Brock and Kris, the Legislature doesn’t mind lies. The committee let Greenfield and Langer’s attorney, former Attorney General Marty Jackley, hoot and holler them away from the central issue by hammering away that there were no blood alcohol tests and no breath tests and no alcohol actually brought into the Capitol and so no laws broken. They acknowledged that brought shame and disrespect upon the Legislature, then let them off with an “admonishment” not to create any future appearances of possible insobriety:

Although it does not appear that there was any violation of the law or of Legislative Joint Rule 1A-3 on the evening of the 37th Legislative Day because there was no consumption of alcohol within the area of the Capitol building, we believe your presence in the Capitol on that legislative day while you appeared to be impaired, violated Joint Rule 1B-1 which requires all legislators to refrain from conduct that is unbecoming to the legislature and inconsistent with a legislator’s obligation to maintain the trust and respect of the people we serve.

Therefore, you are hereby admonished and cautioned to in the future not appear in the Capitol when questions could be raised as to your state of sobriety [Senate Interim Investigatory Committee report, in Bob Mercer, “Panel Admonishes S.D. Senate Republican Leaders Langer, Greenfield for Intoxication,” KELO-TV, 2020.04.24].

Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden, reacting to Senator Greenfield's lies, March 31, 2020.
Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden, presiding while Sen. Brock Greenfield lied to the Senate about Greenfield’s and Langer’s indulgence in alcohol, screen cap from SDPB video, March 31, 2020.

Senator Brock Greenfield boozed it up with lobbyists, showed up at the Capitol impaired by his boozing, and then lied about it in Session, on video, to all of South Dakota. Brock Greenfield lied to us, and the Legislature will do nothing about it. Neither will the voters of District 2, who nominated no one else to run for his Senate seat.

You lied to us, Brock. You lied, and you get to remain a Senator. Congratulations.

25 Comments

  1. grudznick 2020-04-25

    Let us not cast aspersions on Mr. Krogman for this tomfoolery, or the others gathered at his dwelling to do business that dark evening.

    It is only two days until the public breakfasting can begin, so we should look on the brighter side of things ahead, instead of peering backwards into the allegedly drunken darkness.

  2. Donald Pay 2020-04-25

    Well, well, well. Let’s just say, not much changes at the South Dakota Legislature, does it?

    Cory reports: “Senator Brock Greenfield boozed it up with lobbyists, showed up at the Capitol impaired by his boozing, and then lied about it in Session, on video, to all of South Dakota. Brock Greenfield lied to us, and the Legislature will do nothing about it.” I guess that would go for Langer, too, though she seemed too sloshed to speak coherently.

    I have to say I was wrong about these two. It’s not so bad to me that they got a little tipsy during a recess. It’s that they, in Cory’s words, “boozed it up with lobbyists.” They didn’t pay for the drinks and sip a little too much wine in public, where their behavior would have been regulated by public approbation if they overindulged. No, the worst part is they received shot after shot of free booze in the house of a big shot lobbyist. What bills did they support do to deserve such liquid payoffs?

    This is the exact behavior an anti-corruption initiative passed several years back, and why the Legislative and lobbying class wanted to rid itself of the people’s wisdom in passing that law. Now that this has boiled down to a simple case of corruption, it will be excused, and the legislators feted. As I said, nothing changes at the South Dakota Legislature. Not boozing and not corruption.

  3. Bob Newland 2020-04-25

    I believe I forecast this outcome a couple of weeks ago.

    I have to say, though, I didn’t foresee them giving Marty a chance to humiliate himself, which he stepped into beautifully.

  4. Donald Pay 2020-04-25

    Regarding, lies, Cory. The Legislature runs on lies.

  5. jerry 2020-04-25

    Lies=trumpian republicans (South Dakota legislators) These crooks and liars are all working the same kinds of scams and grifts from top to bottom feeders like our crew here.

    “In yet another mind-blowing business situation for an American president, Donald Trump’s company is seeking handouts from foreign governments for three struggling golf resorts.

    The Trump Organization is after aid from the British and Irish governments to cover most of the wages of employees who have been furloughed because of COVID-19 lockdowns, Bloomberg reports.

    Ironically, the 2,000 Trump employees laid off in his own country won’t get the same government help.”

    See how it all works, they get sloshed and paid by cheating and lying while we foot the bill for their corrupt ideology. Is there any justice for that, not here, that’s for sure. Justice waived bye bye 40 years ago to this outlaw state that has even squandered the “rainy day fund”. It doesn’t exist or it would’ve been tapped already.

  6. Loren 2020-04-25

    That does it! I’m changing my affiliation to Republican. That way I will not be held responsible for misbehavior, certainly on a national level, now the state level, and I presume that will hold true for local level, as well… at least in this state.

  7. Disgusted Dakotan 2020-04-25

    @CAH For such a sharp, dapper fellow.. sometimes you are blind as a bat. The bigger issue here is the South Dakota LtGov, the presiding officer of the South Dakota Senate, the SD President of the Senate Larry Rhoden committed impeachable offenses by himself drinking with them, adopting and perpetuating Greenfield’s brazen lies officially on the record, and then corruptly abusing his office to knowingly and willfully obstruct what he knew were legitimate official complaints of misconduct that he was obligated to support and he himself personally report as a matter of official duty of his position as the Senate President! The whole dog and pony sham of an investigation went to Herculean contortions to protect Rhoden and minimize his exposure.. to protect Noem.

  8. Bob Newland 2020-04-25

    The saddest truth is that, even sober, Greenfield, Langer and Rhoden are not fit to represent more than about 20% of SoDak’s dumbest.

  9. grudznick 2020-04-25

    Now, now, we don’t know that Mr. Rhoden was indulging, and we don’t know that Mr. Greenfield and Ms. Langer didn’t bring their own flasks with them to Mr. Krogman’s house, or even pay for the beverages within. I have heard the legislatures buy the beverages for their friends. Lobbying is a thirsty business, I am told.

  10. o 2020-04-25

    Elected makes right.

  11. Daniel Buresh 2020-04-25

    Better elected officials have resigned for less, but that takes courage, integrity, and a bit of humility.

  12. Donald Pay 2020-04-25

    The problems with this whole fiasco are not, in the end, the mistakes of individuals. Sure, individuals made mistakes, but they broke no laws or legislative rules. THAT is the far bigger issue here. Why do South Dakotans allow that sort of behavior to occur in their legislative process. South Dakota needs to focus on what is really the important issue. Greeenfield, Langer, and Rhonden are not blameless, but just to answer Grudz, if Rhoden was lying when he was sober, that seems worse to me than someone lying when they are half lit. But even lying is not the big issue.

    What these three happen to be are examples of what occurs repeatedly in a corrupt system, a system that people tried to reform several years ago with Initiated Measure 22. Under IM 22, this could not have happened, or if it did, both the legislators AND the lobbyists would have been held legally culpable. Somehow people want to skirt over the fact that lobbyists Dean Krogman, Brian Gosch, Justin Bell, and Katie Sieverding were there plying legislators and the LG with free booze. That sort of sleazy corruption is the far bigger issue.

    What’s been exposed here is the need for another anti-corruption effort. If South Dakotans don’t deal with this, it will happen again, over and over and over.

  13. o 2020-04-25

    It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up.

  14. jerry 2020-04-25

    This drunken mess cannot even get the tests we need nor the field health workers to administer them. South Dakota got 1.25 billion for Covid-19, and all this drunken mess thinks of is a government program instead of the health of the state.

  15. Debbo 2020-04-25

    SD needs to get the I&R laws back to where they should be, then do IM22 again with the inclusion that the lege can’t alter it

    Have SD newspapers covered this story? Online media? What have they said?

  16. grudznick 2020-04-25

    Mr. Pay, it has not been determined who paid for the booze which was consumed. It could have been Mr. Greenfield, by most accounts a generous fellow to his friends. We don’t even know for sure that Mr. Jensen didn’t buy the alcohol to set a trap and catch those lobbists in a hairy situation. And look at who they represent. Why, on earth, were they even lounging about on the day of vetoing when they had no dogs in the fight? It does almost smell like Mr. Jensen, or one of his ilk, may have set a trap. grudznick is not saying he did, but we do not know that he did not. Mr. Jensen has done far more distasteful things in the past. The heinous measure, initiated as number 22, was bad. It was very bad. And it could not have stopped this sort of tomfoolery.

  17. Curt 2020-04-25

    The sad truth is that the Democratic Party is indirectly complicit in this matter as they failed to recruit a candidate to challenge either Greenfield or Langer. Unless an Independent materializes at the last minute, these two scofflaws will skate uncontested back into the Senate Chamber next January.
    I actually think the Legislature’s process worked in this instance. The facts were established and apparently not contested by the parties involved (Rhoden, Langer, and Greenfield) but their reputations are permanently tainted. It is the height of arrogance on their part to disregard others – in this case, the members from the House of the Conference Committee they kept waiting (at around 3:30 AM). Tawdry behavior to say the least.

  18. grudznick 2020-04-25

    Mr. Curt, the House of the Conference Committee, whatever that is, kept the senators hanging around for 7 or 8 hours by playing games. It drove them to drink. I could see yet another lawsuit against Mr. Haugaard for ineptitude, harassment, and having such a bad haircut and continuing to sport his porn ‘stache while doing the people’s business.

  19. Curt 2020-04-25

    Mrs Grudz – You should know by now that Conference Committees are comprised of 3 members of the House and 3 of the Senate. Absent the arrival of Sens Greenfield and Langer the Conf Comm could not convene to complete the business of the Legislature – at 3:30 AM (or whatever it was). I am not here to defend the Speaker or his “stache” but it was not members of the House who brought disgrace upon the Body.
    Perhaps the modifier was placed out of order in my earlier post – but you are regularly and consistently out of order. I rest my case.

  20. Scott Ehrisman 2020-04-26

    Knobe is attempting to get sigs right now to run as an Indy against Langer.

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-04-26

    Curt, see also Senator Troy Heinert’s comments at the hearing. Per Bob Mercer’s tweet, Sen. Heinert suggested calling LG Rhoden as a witness. Chairman Rusch shot down that proposal. Rather than raise a ruckus, Heinert accepted the sweeping under the rug, saying “I haven’t heard anybody on the Senate side calling for expulsion. I haven’t heard that at all and I wouldn’t support that” and affirming his faith in Greenfield as a leader:

    Heinert acknowledges nobody else from the Senate was in the building early that morning and he is confident they won’t do it again. He said Democrats don’t have a voice in choosing the Republican leader but can work “for sure” with Greenfield as president pro tem [Bob Mercer, tweet, 2020.04.24].

    We lack the guts to go for the jugular, even when we have Republicans dead to rights.. Instead, we Democrats labor under the Stockholmesque fantasy that if we comply with our captors, build relationships with them, we’ll someday get better table scraps.

  22. James 2020-04-26

    Heinert was complicit also. He as a senate minority leader is weak and triggered easily. Jackley exposed his short fuse once again. If anything this is a bad thing as the democrats showed no backbone in these proceedings also.

  23. Loren 2020-04-26

    Heinert says, “He is confident they won’t do it again.” What is that, the Susan Collins justification?

  24. Chuck-Z 2020-04-26

    I used to have a democrat to vote for, then Brock Greenfield and his buddies gerrymandered me into his district and took away my vote.

    I voted for IM 22 in an attempt to reign in some of these cronies. Brock Greenfield then declared an emergency that I, as a South Dakota citizen had voted incorrectly, reversed the will of the people, and again took away my vote.

    Why am I voting?

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